Has Islam been woven into the fabric of the country since it was founded? That's what President Obama tried to say in a conference on countering violent extremism. Glenn couldn't believe it, so he invited the expert on the Founders: David Barton.
Read the rush transcript below:
GLENN: We heard from the president yesterday that from the very beginning of our country, Islam has been woven into the fabric of our nation. The founders were, of course, huge.
PAT: Oh, my gosh. All of them were --
GLENN: Fifty-two of the 56 signers --
PAT: Like 19 were Muslim clerics. And 52 were full-on Muslim.
GLENN: Yeah. David Barton is here to fill us with his no-they-weren't-all-Muslim lies. Welcome to the program, David.
DAVID: Hey, guys. So glad we're going to talk. This is great.
GLENN: So when you heard the president say yesterday that from the very foundation of our nation, Islam has been critical and integral to our founding and our nation, what were your thoughts?
DAVID: Oh, I just expected it. I laughed. It was really pretty ridiculous. I have since then actually tried -- because in all the reading I've done, you know, thousands of books, there's nothing there. You and I know some of the stuff that's out there, I mean, we know that Muslims were the folks who captured the slaves sent to America largely out of Africa. The Dutch would hall anything they were given. They were traders. The Muslims who did the slave hunting and the slave trading, et cetera. The first Muslims came to America as a result of the Muslims capturing them and sending them to the Dutch traders. We know beyond that we had a 32-year war with Muslims. At first American edition of the Koran, the editors said, you guys have to read this. This is crazy stuff. You'll understand why we've had 32 years of war with these nuts. I mean, those exactly are contributions that would jump to mind. That's about all you can point to back then. So I spent a little bit of time to look up.
If you go to a website called Islam101.com and look at the contribution of Islams to America. I'm telling you, bro, we're really sparse here. 1732. Here's a contribution of a Muslim to America. 1732, a Muslim is set free by James Oglethorpe, who is the founder of Georgia. He's set free and given passage to England. That's what they consider a contribution to America.
1790. It says, well, Muslims are known to be living in Florida. Oh, yeah, that's a Spanish possession of Florida. And Moorish Muslims occupied Spain, so no surprise there.
Then, 1807, it says a Muslim is set free. He buys shares in a bank. Now, we have someone who actually bought stock in America.
PAT: Now, you're talking -- this is really woven into the fabric.
GLENN: When was the stock purchase?
DAVID: I have two more for you. Here's another one. In 1828, the governor of South Carolina, soon to be governor, John Owen, actually visited a Muslim in jail and took him to his plantation. That's another Muslim contribution. Add it to the governor. Here's what I love. This is actually kind of fun.
In 1856, the American military is engaged in all sorts of Indian wars in western lands. They're trying innovative new things, and the secretary of war at that time was Jefferson Davis. Five years later, he would become part of the secession and the president of the Confederacy. But at that time, he's secretary of war. What they did was they hired a Muslim to raise camels in Arizona because the cavalry said, you know, instead of using horses across the desert, let's try these camels. So across the southern part of the country, across Arizona and Mexico, Texas, the cavalry actually used camels at that point in time. So they hired a Muslim to raise camels. That's a contribution of Muslims to America.
GLENN: This is the fabric. I mean, it's practical the whole blanket.
PAT: Yeah. Well, so we were confused because the story of Jefferson's Koran, Salon.com says he had that 16 years before he wrote the Declaration of Independence.
GLENN: And we had always heard, David, that he had asked, who are these Muslims, what do they want? That's when somebody said you have to read the Koran. And he said, can you get me a copy? And he sent over to England for a copy. Which is true?
DAVID: Well, some of both. I mean, he was particularly interested in it. Once he had the idea of, know your enemy. I mean, who are these guys? Because he's one of the first three American diplomats to have to negotiate with Muslim terrorists. So he was really interested at that point. But like most other people in that day, they read most -- from a politics standpoint, you want to know what other people believe so you can argue your own case. So it was not unusual at all to be familiar with the writings of Muslims, to be familiar with the writings of Hindus or others. They studied other religions. If you want to -- they had comparative religions. And that helped them better know what they believed about their own faith and how to talk to those of other faiths. So that's not at all incompatible with Jefferson or that day.
Now, the real interest came when he had to start negotiating with them, and now I have to take this stuff a lot more seriously. It was an academic inquiry before, but now this is a policy matter now. So it's really some of both that goes with it. It's a 1746 copy of the Koran that he got from London.
So that's much earlier. But at the same time it was one of those apologetic things that you learned in academics back then. Part of what they did.
GLENN: And he was just very far ahead in looking in all religions. If the Dalai Lama had been around at the time, he would have had dinner with the Dalai Lama, and he wouldn't have brought him behind the house with the Dumpster.
DAVID: It was not unusual. That was very much an academic practice back then. Academics looked at other religions, other faiths, other countries, other beliefs, and they talked about that, even in the Constitution. We've looked at every other republic that's out there to see how their government works so we know what works and what doesn't. So you have these guys writing about Muslims early on because they want to know what people believe and what it did to their culture their practice, their behavior, et cetera. Jefferson is one of many guys. Not unusual to look at other religions. That was a standard practice for most of the founders.
PAT: Did you say he obtained his copy in 1746. He would have been three years old?
DAVID: No. The Koran he obtained was a 1746 edition of the Koran.
PAT: When did he come by it?
STU: Eleven years before he wrote the declaration.
PAT: Eleven years?
DAVID: And I think that's right. Because at that point in time, tensions with Great Britain are starting. But at that point in time, he's more of a student too. Remember, I mean, from his age at that point, he was more into his academic inquiries. And 1765, he had just become a member of the Virginia legislature. So he's a brand-new legislator. And Virginia is where you have a lot of Muslim slaves in the state. So that's where slavery is first introduced or reported to be first introduced --
GLENN: And these are the slaves just like we have ISIS enslaving Muslims now. These are the slaves that they said at the time, were not Muslim enough. Right?
Over in --
DAVID: Overseas, yeah.
GLENN: Yeah, overseas. The Muslims -- the ISIS of their day would have scooped these guys up and sold them to the slave traders because the Koran calls for that and says as long as they're not Muslim enough.
DAVID: That's right. They were apostate Muslims, so you can ship them off into slavery.
GLENN: So what's amazing is, the Muslims that would have been here would have been the Muslims that would have wanted to be the reformers.
DAVID: Yeah, that's right.
GLENN: They would have been the ones we would have liked.
DAVID: And you look at that point in time, Muslims took 1.25 million slaves in that point of time. We look at the Founding Fathers, in that three decades or so, 1.52 million slaves that were calmed by Muslims. This is a big part of what their faith was.
GLENN: Then the president is right then. They did -- they were important to the fabric of early America. They were the actual slave traders that sold the blacks into slavery to the Dutch trading companies?
DAVID: There you go. That and their terrorism. The jihadism against Americans overseas. Those are the two biggest contributions.
GLENN: That's amazing.
DAVID: The guys who raised camels. I have to give him credit. That has to be tough raising camels in the Arizona desert.
PAT: The rest of the cavalry laughed at him, so they stopped using them.
GLENN: Where did they get the camels?
DAVID: Watch the movie Hawmps! H-A-W-M-P-S. It was slim pickings. Done back with that thing with Jeff Davis. They got the word hawmps because the cavalry looked and said, those are just horses with hawmps. What are those? So that's what they used for several years. And the Indians laughed at them when they tried to chase them down with camels.
JEFFY: Yeah, the military wouldn't ride them anymore.
DAVID: Exactly. It was a short-lived experiment. I have to credit their technology. If you're going to be in the desert chasing folks, why not use the animals that will go for several days, rather than several hours. But they were just so slow, they couldn't keep up with the Indians.
GLENN: David, thank you very much for enlightening me on this. I think this is the headline: President Obama is correct. Muslims provided most of the slaves for America.
GLENN: Is that accurate, David?
DAVID: I can't say that's accurate, but I can say they supplied more than any other entity, but -- the Portuguese traders, the Spanish traders, there were a bunch of traders that went there. But the Muslims were the chief ones in Africa that were able to sell slaves and those who wanted to sell slaves.
GLENN: Okay. So it would be accurate to say, most African slaves or most slaves from Africa --
STU: A plurality of slaves.
DAVID: Has been obtained by Muslim enslavers. Spanish, Portuguese, or the Dutch, or whoever else, the greatest supplier of slaves would undoubtedly have been Muslims.
GLENN: Unbelievable. Thank you very much, David. That's -- that's a story. Blaze has to write that story.
STU: That's an amazing --
GLENN: That's a great story.
STU: I assume the president is talking about this argument from Salon, it's a book called Thomas Jefferson's Islam: Islam and the Founders. Listen. Even in this argument on Salon, a left-wing website, says this -- talking about how the founders of the time were talking about Muslims being tolerated and given rights like other religions --
GLENN: Of course. Every religion was.
STU: They did so not for the sake of actual Muslims because none were known at the time to be living in America. Instead, Jefferson and others defended Muslim rights for the sake of, quote, imagined Muslims, end quote. The promotion of whose theoretical citizenship would prove the true universality of American rights. Indeed, the defense of imagined Muslims would also create political room to consider the rights of other despised minorities whose numbers in America though small were quite real, namely Jews and Catholics.